NEW Zealand: In the space of five months, Tasman United’s Tinashe Marowa has gone from not having a football club to a trial with the Wellington Phoenix.

Marowa’s stellar play in the Stirling Sports Premiership has been rewarded with a two-week training stint at New Zealand’s only professional club.

He will link up with the Phoenix in March, while there is a break in the domestic competition for the O-League group stage, which Auckland City and Team Wellington are involved in.

Tasman captain and former Phoenix legend Paul Ifill helped organise the opportunity, putting Marowa’s name forward.

It completes a meteoric rise for Zimbabwe-born Marowa, who turned 20 last week, and has scored a team-best six goals in Tasman’s debut season.

The pacy winger also spent three days over the Christmas break training with the Junior All Whites squad as coach Darren Bazeley assesses his options for the World Cup in South Korea, starting in May.

“I’ve never played at a level this high and I’m just grateful I’m doing as well as I am because I know the season could have been a whole lot different for me,” Marowa said.

“A few months ago, I had no idea I’d be in this situation.”

He had “put all my eggs in one basket on this one” and was desperate to impress the Phoenix coaches and secure a permanent deal.

Marowa began the season on the bench, but took his chance scoring a goal in his first start against Hamilton Wanderers in round five.

Since then, he’s been a first team regular and one of Tasman’s most consistent performers, along with attacking midfielder Alex Ridsdale and centre back Daniel Allan.

Not bad for a bloke, who was originally on trial at Tasman and didn’t know the club existed in the winter while running around for Wellington club, Western Suburbs.

He was philosophical about being selected in the New Zealand under-20s and said it would be challenging with “six or seven guys” in the same position as him.

Marowa was born in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, but moved to Auckland aged eight. His father, Willard, a car mechanic, arrived two years before the rest of the family to forge a better life.

“It was lucky. We just came down before things turned bad in Zimbabwe.

“Pretty much every kid growing up, no matter whether you’re good or not, everyone plays football during the day and night [in Zimbabwe]. That was pretty much all we did. It was always football.”

 

 

Marowa spends two days a week labouring at Nelson timber company, South Pine, which allows him to fit football commitments around that.

He’s training harder than he ever has, while being smarter about what he puts into his body.

Being around Tasman veteran Ifill every day, who spent a decade in the English pro leagues with Millwall, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, seems to have rubbed off on him.

“He’s been a really good influence on me, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well. He’s been a really good help. I’m grateful we’ve got a player like that in the team.”